Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from Probate Court No. 1 Tarrant County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2013-PR00606-1-F
Birdwell, Bassel, and Womack, JJ.
are Ione and Serafim "Sam" Stavron, a mother and
son who appeal a summary judgment granting attorney's
fees in favor of appellee SureTec Insurance Company. The
trial court awarded the attorney's fees under the theory
that SureTec had incurred legal expenses as a surety for Sam,
and the Stavrons had agreed to indemnify SureTec for such a
loss. We hold that SureTec had an enforceable indemnity
agreement (contrary to Ione's first issue), that this
indemnity obligation did not terminate (contrary to Sam's
first issue), and that the reasonable and necessary amount of
attorney's fees was conclusively proven (contrary to the
Stavrons' second issues). We therefore affirm.
Steven Stavron died, his son Sam was appointed as temporary
administrator of his estate. Sam retained an attorney, Louis
Papaliodis, to handle the matter. As temporary administrator,
Sam was required to post a bond. So, on March 7, 2013, he
submitted to Southwest Bonding Company an application for
bond number 3348561 in the amount of $50, 000. Ione, who was
Steven's ex-wife, also submitted an application to
Southwest Bonding the same day. Ione's application
likewise concerned bond number 3348561, and her application
bore the handwritten notation "Co-signer" at the
Stavrons' applications did not mention any surety company
by name; instead, the applications asked for an unnamed
"Surety" to issue a bond. On the back of both
applications was an identical indemnity agreement, by which
the applicants promised to indemnify the Surety against all
claims and damages that the Surety may incur in connection
with the extension of surety credit. The same day that the
Stavrons executed their applications and submitted them to
Southwest Bonding, SureTec issued bond number 3348561 to Sam
in the amount of $50, 000.
Sam's handling of the estate went awry, and he was
replaced as temporary administrator. The order releasing him
as temporary administrator also provided "the sureties
on his bond are hereby released."
was also replaced as the estate's attorney. Subsequently,
Papaliodis made a claim against the estate. When his claim
was rejected, he pursued litigation against the estate and
SureTec. SureTec eventually prevailed, but it incurred legal
fees in doing so. SureTec sought to recover its legal
expenses from Ione and Sam, relying on the indemnity clause
in the applications they signed. The Stavrons refused to
indemnify SureTec, and SureTec filed this suit.
25, 2018, SureTec filed a motion for summary judgment,
arguing that as a matter of law, the indemnity clause
entitled SureTec to recover its legal expenses from the
Stavrons. Among the many exhibits attached to the motion was
an affidavit from SureTec's attorney, Gregory Weinstein,
who discussed his representation in general terms and averred
that SureTec had incurred $41, 177 in attorney's fees.
days before the summary judgment hearing, SureTec submitted a
reply and a "supplemental" affidavit from
Weinstein, along with detailed billing records covering the
entirety of the three-year litigation. The supplemental
affidavit stated that SureTec had by that point incurred $47,
289 in legal fees.
January 23, 2019, the trial court granted summary judgment in
favor of SureTec, awarding $47, 289 in attorney's fees
jointly and severally against Sam and Ione, among other
relief. This appeal followed.
Standard of Review
review a summary judgment de novo. Travelers Ins. v.
Joachim, 315 S.W.3d 860, 862 (Tex. 2010). We consider
the evidence presented in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant, crediting evidence favorable to the nonmovant if
reasonable jurors could and disregarding evidence contrary to
the nonmovant unless reasonable jurors could not. Mann
Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding,
289 S.W.3d 844, 848 (Tex. 2009). We indulge every reasonable
inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's
favor. 20801, Inc. v. Parker, 249 S.W.3d 392, 399
(Tex. 2008). A plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment on a
cause of action if it conclusively proves all essential
elements of the claim. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(a),
(c); MMP, Ltd. v. Jones, 710 S.W.2d 59, 60 (Tex.
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